In the past five days, the District of Columbia has seen more snowfall than it has ever seen at once before. Put simply, it’s about as close to a weather-related municipal crisis as any mayor could face.
Time to bring the city together? Nope—-time for Mayor Adrian M. Fenty‘s foes to make political hay.
This morning, Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. issued a press release publicly asking Fenty to ask President Barack Obama to declare a federal emergency and possibly bring in FEMA to organize the cleanup. Minutes ago, Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry made a similar plea, to have Obama activate the National Guard and “ask all federal agencies to use their resources and equipment to help in the plowing of snow.”
Bad enough for Thomas to grandstand—-after all, this is a guy who spent the weekend in Miami. But Barry? A guy who’s been in Fenty’s position before?
“The challenges that you are facing due to insufficient resources and equipment, as well as, employee fatigue,” he writes, “are very similar to those that I faced, as Mayor, during the Blizzard of 1996 and the snowstorm of 1987.”
Barry, of course, got terrible review for his handling of those storms; terrible enough that to this day they’re remembered as emblems of his municipal mismanagement. Now today—-with another mayor facing a snow deluge, an unprecedented snow deluge—-Barry has not chosen to, say, empathize. Rather, he’s looking to take Hizzoner down a peg, painting him as ineffectual and too arrogant to accept federal aid (which, of course, he may very well be).
And, of course, what irony to have Barry declaring the current mayor unfit to handle tough circumstances and begging the federal government to intervene.
On slight less obnoxious level is At-Large Councilmember Kwame R. Brown, who issued a press release Sunday asking Fenty to close the District government. He gets a bit of a pass, given just how ridiculous it would have been to have the D.C. Public Schools open Monday. [UPDATE, 5:30 P.M.: Scratch that; Kwame’s called for federal emergency, too—-albeit just for the money, not FEMA.]
Best way for a legislator to handle a snowfall? You could do worse than Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells, who’s has his constituents send him tweets about their uncleared streets, making a list and coordinating with the mayoral community relations office to actually get them plowed.